“Chicago Cubs fans are ninety percent scar tissue.” — George F. Will
It’s been over five years since my mother won the Cubs: It’s a Way of Life contest and threw out the first pitch one sunny June afternoon in the friendly confines. Now at age ninety, she remains a faithful and knowledgeable fan, basking in these October games. Tonight, her Cubs won the series against the dreaded Cardinals and move on to the next round. Could a World Series be within reach? Time will tell. In the meantime, I’m posting the essay I ghost-wrote for my mother back in 2010.
Cubs: It’s a Way of Life
“Gabby Hartnett hits one out of the park,” crackled the kitchen radio, and I cheered, then grabbed my pencil, marking my homemade scorecard. It was 1937, and I, a child of German immigrants, was captivated by the Chicago Cubs. Now I’m eighty-five, and the Cubs continue to be my way of life.
No one game, one superstar, one amazing play inspired my devotion. Instead, my life as a Cubs fan is a scrapbook stuffed with treasured images and cherished moments.
In the forties, my sister and I, teenagers, shared Sunday double-headers in the left field bleachers above the ivy, sighing over our favorite player, Augie Galan, yelling for Phil Cavaretta and Stan Hack.
In the fifties, I was transplanted to the Southwest Side. Wrigley trips were a luxury for this wife and mother, but I set up my ironing board in front of the TV, and didn’t miss a Beckert grounder or an Ernie homer on the twelve-inch screen. The voices of Boudreau and Lloyd, then Brickhouse, were a steady soundtrack of our family life.
Sometimes, my husband, five kids, and I piled in the ’57 Merc for Ladies Days at Wrigley and created memories of hot dogs, pop, and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” while rooting for the boys in blue. From our third-base-side seats on a sunny day in July,’62, we waved at the Telstar cameras filming the first overseas broadcast of the friendly confines.
From Santo clicking his heels in ’69, the triumph of 1984’s pennant win, the almost-there heartbreak of 2003, my loyalty never wavers. I’ve delighted in Williams’ RBIs, the Reuschels’ pitching prowess, Jenkins’ golden arm, Dawson’s powerful bats, Grace’s fielding, Theriot’s hustle.
At any game I attend, I’m in full regalia – personalized Cubs jersey, cap, and earrings. My passion is renowned among friends and acquaintances who wouldn’t dare call during game time. Family visits to Arizona must include a cactus league game. Even my dish soap sports a Cubs apron!
Nowadays, Len Kasper and Bob Brenly are my companions on summer afternoons, though I’m no longer behind that darn ironing board. From opening day to season’s end, I’m glued to my TV, engrossed in every play. Hurling pep talks at the screen, wringing my hands when the going gets tough, I stand by my Cubbies.
Cubs – a way of life? Hey, hey and holy cow! For me, it’s always “Go, Cubs, go.”